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Full text of "Speech of the Right Hon. B. Disraeli, M.P., at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester, April 3, 1872"

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[Publications of the National Union. No. XIV.] 






APRIL 3, 1872. 






112, STRAND. 





APRIL 3, 1872. 

Mr. Disraeli said — Your chairman has correctly reminded you that this 
is not the first time that my voice has sounded in this hall, but it was on 
occasions very different from that under which we now assemble together. 
It was nearly "thirty years ago, when I endeavoured to support the flagging 
energy of an institution in which I thought there were the germs of future 
refinement, and much intellectual advantage to the rising generation of Man- 
chester, and since I have been here on this occasion I have* learned with much 
gratification that it is now accounted amongst your most flourishing institu- 
tutions. There was also another and more recent occasion, when the gracious 
office fell to me to distribute, among the members of the Mechanics' Institu- 
tion, those prizes which they had gained by pursuing their studies in letters 
and in science. Gentlemen, these were pleasing oflices, and if life consisted 
only of such oflices, few Avould have to complain of it ; but life has its 
masculine duties, and Ave are assembled here to fulfil some of the most 
important when, as citizens of a free country, we are assembled together to 
declai'e our determination to maintain and uphold that constitution to which 
we are indebted, in our opinion, for our freedom and our welfare. Gentlemen, 
there seems at first something incongruous that one should be addressing the 
population of so influential and intelligent a county as Lancashire Avho is not 
locally connected with them'; and I frankly admit that that circumstance did for 
a long time make me hesitate in accepting your cordial and generous invitation. 
But, gentlemen, after what occurred yesterday ; after receiving more than 200 
addresses from every part of this great county ; after the welcome which 
then greeted me ; I feel that I should not be doing justice to your feelings, 
and not doing duty to myself, if I any longer considered it to be an act of 
presumption. Gentlemen, although it may not be an act of presumption, it 
still is, I am told, an act of great difficulty. Our opponents assure us that 
the Conservative party have no political programme, and therefore they 
must look with much satisfaction to one whom you honour to-night by con- 

sidering as the leader and representative of your opinions when he comes 
forward at your invitation to express to you what that programme is. 
Gentlemen, if a political programme is a policy to despoil Churches and 
plunder landlords, I confess that the Conservative party has no political 
programme. If a political programme is a policy which attacks or menaces 
every interest and every institution, every class and every calling in the 
country, I confess that the Conservative party has no political programme. 
But if, gentlemen, a policy which has a distinct aim, and such as deeply 
interests the great body of the people — if this be a becoming political 
programme, I, for a great party, am here to assert and to 
vindicate it — here or elsewhere — as one not unworthy of those 
with whom I act in j)olitical life. Gentlemen, the programme of the Con- 
servative party is the same and unchangeable ; it is a policy that would 
maintain the monarchy limited by the co-ordinate authority of the Estates 
of the Realm, and jDopularly known as Queen, Lords, and Commons. The 
fundamental principles of that Constitution have been recently impugned 
and assailed. The flag of the Republic has been raised, and therefore 
gentlemen, I think it is not inappropriate to the present hour and situation 
if I make to you one or two brief remarks on the character of those institu- 
tions. Gentlemen, it is now nearly two centuries since that Constitution was 
settled, and during that period England has not known a revolution, although 
during that period our country has experienced, perhaps, more considerable 
changes than any other country in the world. What is the cause of this ? 
Why have you for so long an interval not experienced a revolution in this 
country? Because, gentlemen, the wisdom of your forefathers placed 
the prize of supreme power without the sphere of human passions. AVliatever 
the struggle of parties — whatever the strife of factions — whatever the excite- 
ment and exaltation of the public mind, there was ever something in England 
round which all parties and all classes could rally — which represented the 
majesty of the law and the administration of justice ; which was at the 
same time the guarantee of all our present rights, and which was the 
fountain of honour. Gentlemen, it is well to realise what is meant by a 
country not experiencing a revolution in so long an interval. It means 
the continuous enjoyment and exercise of human ingenuity ; it means the 
unbroken application of scientific discoveries to your welfare, and the comfort 
and convenience of men ; it means the accumulation of capital ; it means 
the elevation of labour ; it means those fabrics of invention and power which 
cover the district in which you live, and which supply the requirements of 
the world. It means that indefatigable application of skill to the cultivation 
of the soil which has extracted in this country from a somewhat reluctant 
glebe harvests more abundant than are furnished by lands nearer the sun. 
It means, above all, that long established order which is the only parent 

, UIUC ^ 

of personal liberty and political rights. And all this, gentlemen, you 
owe to the throne. Gentlemen, there is another view of this question 
which I wish to place before you on this occasion. I am myself a party man, 
and probably the vast majority of you who are present may be enrolled in 
the same category. I am a party man, because I do not see how Parliamen- 
tary Government is possible without party. I look upon a Parliamentary 
Government as the noblest government in the world, and certainly the 
one most suited to England ; but without the recognised discij^line 
of political connection animated by the highest private honour, I 
cannot understand how a numerous and popular assembly could long resist 
the force of seductive arts in a Minister. But, gentlemen, though I 
am a party man, I am not insensible to the defects to which party 
is liable. I know that it has a tendency to warp the intelli- 
gence. I am sure that there is no Minister, when he gives his 
consideration to some great measure which he believes the exigen- 
cies of the State require, who does not feel that it is an effort 
altogether to emancipate himself from the political prejudice under which 
he may have long acted. But, gentlemen, what an immense advantage 
it is in the English Constitution that no Minister can present to Parliament 
any measure without first submitting it to an intelligence entirely superior 
to party feeling, and that one placed in the most exalted position in the 
State. I know there are some who will say that this is only a beautiful 
theory of the English Constitution, and that the personal influence of the 
Sovereign is now absorbed in the responsibility of the Minister. Permit me 
to observe that I believe that opinion involves a great fallacy. For example, 
the observations, I need not say, I am now making on this subject refer not 
particularly to the time in which we live, but to the history and constitution 
of our country. Take a case not uncommon — take George the Third's reign : 
he came to the throne at the earliest period of life which the laws of his 
country would permit, and he enjoyed a long reign. Conceive the position 
of the Sovereign under these circumstances. From the first moment 
of his accession he is in constant communication with the most 
able statesmen of the period, and with the most eminent men 
of his country of all parties. It is impossible that any indi- 
vidual, even of only average ability, under such circum- 
stances, will not gain a degree of political information and political 
experience which must have an influence on public events. Gentlemen, 
information and experience, whether they are possessed by the Sovereign or 
the meanest of his subjects, are irresistible in life. No man, with the 
fearful responsibility which devolves on an English Minister, can dare 
to treat with indifference a suggestion on public affairs which does not occur 
to him, or information on political matters which had not previously reached 


him. But pursue the situation which I have indicated — the longer such a 
Sovereign reigns, the greater must be that influence. The principles of the 
English Constitution do not contemplate the absence of such influence on the 
part of the Sovereign ; and if they did, the principles of human nature would 
render the establishment of such a condition impossible. As that Sovereign 
continues to reign, all the great Ministers of his youth gradually disappear, 
and a new generation of statesmen rise up. Some political contingency occurs. 
The Ministers are perplexed, but the Sovereign says, " Thirty years ago I re- 
member a similar state of affairs," and then he states the course taken by 
the people who advised him on the difficulty, and successfully advised him. 
And though he may maintain himself within the strictest limits of the 
Constitution, who can suppose that, when such suggestions are made by 
the most exalted person in the country, they can be without eJffect? 
The Minister who would treat such information and such expe- 
rience with indifference would not be a constitutional Minister, but 
an arrogant idiot. Gentlemen, I maintain when observations 
are made they are, in my mind, made by the creatures of 
ignorance. I think it right to call your attention to these suggestions, 
because I think they have some meaning in them, and when we are separated 
you can muse over them, as I think, with profit. Gentlemen, the influence 
of the Monarchy in England must always be considerable. England is a 
domestic country. It is a country where home is revered, and the hearth is 
sacred. Such a country is properly represented by a family — by a Royal 
Family. If the members of that family have been educated with a sense of 
their duty to their people and their responsibility, it is impossible to 
exaggerate the importance of the position which they occupy in our social 
system. Gentlemen, it is not merely a question of their influence over manners, 
not merely that they may offer a type of all that is elegant, and a model 
of religion and propriety. A nation — at least such a nation as England — 
has a heart as well as intelligence, and in moments of national adversity, in 
moments of great public and political peril, it is something that we have an 
institution in this country round which the affections of the people may rally. 
Gentlemen, there is one observation more which I should like to make, with your 
permission, upon our Monarch}?-. It is one which a year ago would have been un- 
necessary, nor is it one which is agreeable to touch upon now ; but there 
are duties which ought to be performed, and the time is come, in my opinion, 
when this oflice should be fulfilled. You know, gentlemen, that persons — and 
some of them persons of note — have been travelling about the country in- 
veighing against this central institution — on account of the expenses which it 
occasions. Now, gentlemen, if my views, such as I have suggested, of the 
importance and beneficial influence of the Monarchy upon your welfare be correct 
— and I infer from the symptoms of sympathy I have received that they represent 

yours, if my views are correct, I am cei-tain the English people would be humiliated 
if the chief family in the country — a family that represents the nation — 
should not be maintained with becoming dignity, or should be placed in a 
position secondary or subordinate, perhajDS, to some of the Sovereign's own 
nobles. But, gentlemen, I am not going to dwell upon that consideration, 
vv^hich I throw aside as a view of the case with which you are familiar, and I 
do so because you are familiar with it, and I won't remind you that her 
Majesty had a good and a considerable estate in the country, on which, if she 
chose, she might live with becoming splendour, and which is, in its revenue, 
as considerable as the Civil List which was voted by Parliament on condition 
of her giving up this estate to the country. That estate has been given up, 
and its revenues have been paid over to the Exchequer. I also throw that 
aside. I come here to-night, and I take this opportunity of expressing that 
which I have expressed in the House of Commons, though I have not had a 
becoming occasion on which to enter into details upon the subject—I express 
my opinion here in Lancashire — that there is not a sovereignty of any first- 
rate country in the world so (I will use a mean epithet) cheap as the sovereignty 
of England. Gentlemen, I will not compare the expenditure of our Throne 
with other great countries, because it might be said I was taking an unfair 
advantage of a few exceptional instances, because I know in Lancashire I am 
addressing an audience tolerably well acquainted with public affairs, 
and you know that the Civil Lists of the least of these continental 
empii-es are double, treble, and in one instance quadruple of what is the Civil 
List of our Sovereign. But I will take the Civil List of the sovereignty of a 
Republic. I will compare the cost of the sovereignty of England 
with the sovereignty of a Republic, and that a Republic with whose 
affairs the public of Lancashire are tolerably well acquainted. I will deal 
with the cost of sovereignty in the United States of America, Gentlemen, 
there is no analogy, as is drawn by these wandering politicians, between the 
position of Queen Victoria and the President of the United States. The 
President of the United States is not the Sovereign of the United States. 
There is some analogy between the position of the President of the United 
States and the Prime Minister of England, and they are both remune- 
rated much at the same rate, which is about what is obtained by a second- 
rate professional man. Gentlemen, the Sovereign of the United States is the 
people, and I want to shew you what is the cost of the sovereignty of the 
people. It is a very short and simple story, but it is one pregnant with in- 
struction. You know the constitution of the United States — it is a great 
advantage when addressing so large a meeting as this not to have to explain 
every step as you proceed ; you know that in North America there are thirty- 
seven sovereign States with their Assemblies. You know also there is 
another constitution of these thirty-seven sovereign States by which, they 


enter into a confederation, and are represented by a House of Represen- 
tatives and a Senate. Now, gentlemen, by the last returns that I have 
obtained — and you may rely ujDon it they are authentic, for if I made a 
mistake on such matters I think the Lancashire lads would soon find me out 
— by the last official accounts that I have received, there were in the 
confederate constitution in the House of Representatives 275 representatives 
and 10 delegates ; so that there are, in effect, 285 members of the House of Re- 
presentatives. There are also 74 members of the Senate, making altogether ^59 
members. Now these 359 members receive what in sterling is one thousand per 
annum. They receive more than that ; they have an allowance called mileage, 
which is a very convenient allowance, as those who have tickets on railways are 
perfectly aware. The aggregate cost of this is about £30,000 per 
annum. Therefore the House of Representatives and the Senate 
receive exactly in sterling money £389,000 a year ; about the sum 
of the Civil List of her Majesty. But that will give you only a very 
imperfect idea of the sovereignty in the United States. The sovereign people 
is not satisfied by a Civil List of that amount. Every member of the 
Assembly of the Legislature, and of the Assemblies of the 37 States, is also 
paid, and he is paid at about 350 dollars per annum. To guard myself lest 
this statement should be questioned, I wish to tell you that all returns on 
this head (though I have been furnished with the great majority of them) are 
not complete. Some estimate of the New States must, as to numbers and so 
on, be arrived at by a logical process that will not materially afi'ect the 
calculations ; and in order that I may not be charged with over- 
stating, I have left out of the calculation the item which must 
be placed against every one of the Assemblies of the sovereign States, 
and that is mileage. There are, as far as I can calculate, about 5,010 
members of the sovereign States ; their cost at 350 dollars, which would be 
1,753,500 dollars, is equal to £350,700 per annum, and therefore the direct 
cost of the sovereignty of the United States is between seven and eight 
hundred thousand per year exactly, or nearly double the amount of our Civil 
List. Gentlemen, perhaps these facts have not been publicly announced 
before. It is very much to be regretted that a little more accurate informa- 
tion on the subject was not obtained. I could go through the subject 
to-night, but I will not, because even with your indulgence I should weary 
you. But there is one point on which I can assure you, and that is, if I were 
to pursue the consequences of the sovereignty which is the fountain of 
honour compared with the sovereignty which acts upon the principle of strict 
economy you would be astonished at the result. But, gentlemen, it is no use 
to have these meetings if we only assemble together to exchange sympathy and 
cheer each other. I hoped that in coming here I might learn much and 
communicate something, and therefore you will allow me, I am sure, one 


moment upon the subject, not to exalt it, but only to suggest liow very 
difficult it is to understand the question when we hear the trash that is 
talked in England by men who ought never to occupy the position of 
instructors of the people. Now, gentlemen, the most difficult thing in the 
world is to govern a country like this, and every Minister feels, from the 
increase of business every day, that it is difficult to devise means by which 
the country, if properly governed, would have its affiiirs satisfactorily 
administered. There is one means of wliich the Ministers of England have 
of late years largely availed themselves, which 1ms been a great 
advantage to the country, and that is the use of Royal Commissions. You 
know what a Royal Commission is. The Queen of England can appeal to 
the most- experienced statesmen, if there is a knotty subject which 
no Cabinet can solve, upon which they want the most careful and 
authentic information ; and the Queen of England can appeal to men 
of the highest rank and fame to give their intelligence to the subject. 
She can appeal to the great scholars of the country if the subject 
demands erudition. If it is a matter which involves questions of art and 
science, she can at once appeal to the services of the greatest artists and 
greatest philosophers. No one for a moment hesitates to respond to the 
appeal of Queen Victoria when she summons them as her trusty and 
well-beloved counsellors. These counsellors are not paid And if, 
as not unfrequently happens, a subject arises to which soma 
individual devotes extraordinaiy powers of intellect, and the 
nation feels there ought to be some reward for labours so eminent and con- 
summate, and there is bestowed upon him a decoration, he is proud of the 
approbation of the Sovereign and the esteem of his fellow-countrymen. Now, 
gentlemen, the Government of the United States — very clever men, no 
doubt — no one disputes their ability, their energy, or their acuteness — 
have also largely availed themselves of these commissions. Their 
commissioners are paid, but their commissions have failed. 
And why ? Because theirs is a Government in which there is no 
fountain of honour. Now, gentlemen, I have rather exceeded the 
bounds to which I had intended to confine myself upon this 
subject, but it is, as they say in fashionable circles, the subject 
of the hour ; and when I find young gentlemen can rise up 
in a large assembly of what I hitherto considered intelligent men in an 
English city, and talk nonsense by the hour against the fundamental princi- 
ples of the English Constitution, and hold up the sovereignty of England as 
intolerable on account of expense, it was my duty, when the occasion offered — 
and I think my friend the Chairman told us to-night that the occasion, some- 
how or another, always came to every man — to express my views upon it. 
Gentlemen, the English Constitution is by no means the uninfluential and 


obsolete thing some persons would attempt to persuade you it is, and therefore 
I ask your patience for a moment while I make a few remarks upon another 
institution of the country that has been lately very much inveighed against, 
and which, we are told, ought to be either abolished or reformed — that is the 
House of Lords. I will not stop now one moment to endeavour to prove to 
you that no representative Constitution can last without the Second Chamber. 
I will not do that because it is a question which for more than one hundred 
years — or at least for one hundred years — has occupied consideration, and the 
controversy of most eminent men of all countries, ever since, in fact^ the 
establishment of the Noi-th American Republic ; and they have all agi'eed — 
statesmen have agreed — American, French, German, and Italian — that re- 
presentative institutions without a second Chamber are impossible. Of late 
years it has been significantly noted by very great authorities in these 
matters that the frequent failure of the arrangement called the French 
Republic is mainly to be attributed to that want. But, gentlemen, although 
statesmen of all countries have expressed their conviction that representative 
institutions without a second Chamber are impossible, they have found the 
utmost difficulty, almost the impossibility, of creating the second Chamber. 
How is it to be created ? Is it to be created by the sovereign power ? Well, 
we know what a chamber of nominees is — it is the proverb for general dis- 
regard, and general disrespect. Are they to be elected ? Are they to be 
chosen by the same constituency as the popular body ? If so, what moral 
right would they have to criticise and control the representatives in the popu- 
lar body? Will you escape from the difficulty by electing them by a 
restricted and more exclusive constituency, with a higher franchise, and 
chosen, as you may suppose, from superior elements ? The question 
then immediately arises, Wliy should the majority be governed by 
the minority ? Gentlemen, our cousins in the United States settled 
the question of a second Chamber well. They had elements at their com- 
mand which never before existed in the world, and so far as I can form 
any opinion, never will again. They summoned their representative 
from their thirty-nine sovereign States. In England, gentlemen, we had a 
House of Lords. It had developed from the historical constitution of an 
ancient country, and had always adapted itself to the circumstances of the 
age Avhich it had to encounter. What is the first element of this second 
Chamber, deemed, and rightly deemed, so indispensable by the greatest poli- 
tical authorities ? Its indispensable element you will all agree in a moment 
is Independence. Wliat is the soundest basis of independence ? I think you 
will all agree with me when I say that it is Property. Well, the Prime 
Minister of England — and though I do not agree with him in aU points, I 
agree with him entirely in this — has recently informed the Houses of Parlia- 
ment that the average income of the House of Lords is £20,000 a year, 


making with its number a revenue f-f £9,000,000 per annum. So far as 
property — I do not say that is the only element — but so far as property is 
concerned as a necessary element of a second Chamber, all will agree that 
the House of Lords fulfils that condition. At the same time that there 
is a j)artial outcry against the Throne, there is also an attack upon the House 
of Lords on the ground of its hereditary character. Before I refer to that 
I would call your attention to this circumstance : that the property of the 
House of Lords is of a peculiar character. In the first place, it is visible 
property, and therefore it is responsible property — as I should suppose 
many of the ratepayers in this large assembly must know to their cost. Gen- 
tlemen, it is not only visible property, but it is, generally speaking, territorial. 
A great mass of property of the House of Lords is derived from land ; and 
one of the elements of landed property is that it must be representative. I 
will illustrate the observation if you will permit me. Suppose, for example, 
there was no House of Commons — which God forbid — but, gentlemen, 
suppose there was none, and take an Englishman in any part of the 
country — say Cumberland and Cornwall as the two extremes, so 
that we may be impartial — and he had a grievance. The Cumber- 
land man would say, " This is a great oppression I am sufi'ering 
from, but I know a Cumberland man in the House of Lords — 
perhaps the Earl of Lonsdale or Lord Carlisle — and he will see that 
I am righted." And the Cornishman, too, if he had a grievance — if he 
thought there was some maladministration of justice, and fliat he was the 
victim of oppression, would naturally say, "I will go to the head of the 
family at Port Eliot. His family have sacrificed themselves before^ 
this for the liberties of Englishmen, and he will not see a Cornish- 
man treated in this way." So it is that if there wero^ 
no House of Commons, and there were a House of Lords, there 
is no part of England where an Englishman when in trouble 
would not remember that there was a representative of landed property in- 
the House of Lords who could take the initiative in having his grievance 
removed. But, gentlemen, the charge against the House of Lords 
is that the dignities are hereditary ; and we are told that if 
we have a House of Peers they should be peers for life. 
There are persons of great authority who are in favour of life 
peerages. There is my noble friend near me, with whom I seldom differ upon 
any subject. Even he the other day gave a limited kind of admission of the 
principle on grounds which are highly deserving of consideration. 
Gentlemen, I must say one word about peers for life. In the first place 
let me observe that every peer is a peer for life, as he cannot be a- 
peer after his death ; but some peers for life are succeeded in their 
dignities by their children. The question arises, who is most respon- 


felble — u, peer for life whose dignities are not descendible, or a peer 
for life whose dignities are hereditary 1 Now, gentlemen, a peer for life is 
in a very strong position. He says, "Here I am ; I have got power and I 
will exercise it." I have no doubt that, on the whole, a peer for life would 
exercise it for what he deemed was the public good. Let us hope that. But, 
after all, he might, and could, exercise it according to his own will. 
Nobody can call him to account ; he is independent of 
everybody. 13ut a peer for life whose dignities descend is 
in a very different position. He has every inducement to ^tudy 
public opinion, and feels it just to yield ; because he naturally feels that if the 
order to which he belongs is in constant collision with public opinion the 
chances are that his dignities will not descend to his posterity. Therefore, 
o-entlemen, I am not prepared myself to believethat a solution of any difficul- 
ties in the public mind on this point is to be found by creating peers for life. I 
know there are some philosophers who believe that the best substitute 
for the House of Lords would be an assembly formed of ex-Governors of 
Colonies. I have not sufficient experience on that subject to 
give a decided opinion upon it. When the Muse of Comedy 
threw her frolic grace over society a retired Governor was generally 
one of the characters in every comedy ; and the last of our great actors — 
who, by the by, was a great favourite at Manchester — Mr. Farren, was cele- 
brated for his delineation of the character in question. Wliether it be the 
recollection of the performance or not, I confess I am inclined to believe that 
an English gentleman — born to business, managing his own estate, adminis- 
tering the affairs of his county, mixing with all classes of his fellow men, 
now in the hunting field, now in the raihvay direction, unaffected, 
unostentatious, proud of his ancestors, if they have contributed to the 
greatness of our common country — is, on the whole, more likely to 
form a senator agreeable to English opinion and English taste 
than any substitute that has yet been produced. Gentlemen, 
let me make one observation more, on the subject of the House 
of Lords, before I conclude. There is some advantage in political experience. 
I remember the time when there was a similar outcry against the House of 
Lords, but much more intense and powerful; and, gentlemen, it arose from 
the same cause. A Liberal Government had been installed in office, with an 
immense Liberal majority. They proposed some violent measures. The 
House of Lords modified some, delayed others, and some they threw out. 
Instantly there was a cry to abolish or to reform the House of Lords, 
and the greatest popular orator that probably ever existed was sent 
on a pilgrimage over England to excite the people in favour of this opinion. 
What happened 1 That hapj^ened, gentlemen, which may happen to-morrow. 
There was a dissolution of Parliament. The great Liberal majority vanished. 

The balance of parties was restored. It Avas discovered that the House of 
Lords had behind them at least half of the English people. We heard no 
more cries for their abolition or their reform; and before two years more 
passed England was really governed by the House of Lords, under the wise 
influence of the Duke of Wellington and the commanding eloquence of 
Lyndhurst; and such was the enthusiasm of the nation in favour of the 
Second Chamber that at every public meeting its health was drunk, 
with the additional sentiment for which we are indebted to one of the most 
distinguished members that ever represented the House of Commons, 
"Thank God, there is the House of Lords." The main power of the 
House of Commons depends upon its command of the public purse, and its 
good use of the public expenditure ; and when power is enjoyed by a large 
majority, and is so exercised, the power of the House of Commons increases, 
and under some circumstances it may be predominant ; but this great power 
is not the creation of the legislation of the last forty years ; it is not the 
Reform Bill of Earl Derby wliich has given this great power to the House of 
Connnons ; they have enjoyed it for centuries ; they have often asserted, they 
have sometimes tyrannically exercised it. What is the House of Commons i 
They are the representatives of the constituencies of England. Is there any- 
thing which has occurred with regard to the constituencies of England which 
alters the House of Commons in relation to the Throne or the House of 
Lords ? I will ask you to-night that question, we can discuss it with very 
great advantage now, for we have in our possession a document which if I 
had accepted your invitation last year I should not have possessed, and there- 
fore there must have been a wiser influence than we both could have sup- 
posed at work when I declined that flattering appeal. We have now the 
census of the population of this country, and we have also another important 
and still more recent document — the return of the constituencies of the United 
Kingdom, and from the registration of last autumn the population of the United 
Kingdom may be fairly statedatthismomentatabout32, 000,000, andthenum- 
ber of the constituencies of the United Kingdom, and I am taking in every- 
thing, after making those deductions which hitherto have always been made 
in parliamentary returns on that subject, which were made in the return of 
1865, are not made in the present, but which I will certainly not overstate. 
Generally speaking we make for rather double returns, and so on, a deduction of 10 
per cent. I will not even say so much as that, but I may fairly say the 
amount of the constituencies of the United Kingdom is 2,200,000. Well, 
gentlemen, you will at once perceive that there must be 30 millions of the 
population of this country that are represented as much by the House of 
Lords as by the House of Commons, and who for the protection of their 
rights must depend upon them and the Majesty of the Throne. Now, gentlemen, 
I will tell you what was accomplished by the last Reform Act. Wlien Lord Grey 


introduced his Bill — no doubt a great and statesmanlike measure — he com- 
mitted an immense political mistake, and one which for a long time appeared 
irretrievable. He fortified the legitimate influence of the aristocracy, and 
gave the franchise to the middle classes. But the -working classes were 
omitted in the Act, and, what was worse, no provision was made for them, 
and those ancient franchises were abolished which they had enjoyed from time 
immemorial. Gentlemen, that was the origin of the electoral disturbance and 
inconvenience which for 30 years annoyed and perplexed the community. The 
Liberal party, I feel it my duty to say, had not acted fairly by this question. 
In their adversity they held out hopes to the working classes ; but when 
they had a strong Government they laughed their vows to scorn. Lord 
Derby, the father of my noble friend, my colleague in public life for twenty 
years, under probably a series of difficulties such as no two public men ever 
had yet to encounter, and between whom and myself I can say with honour 
there was never a coldness — Lord Derby had to encounter great difficulties — 
difficulties impossible to exaggerate. When Lord Derby became Prime 
Minister it was absolutely necessary that he should deal with this question, 
and he dealt with it in a manner which was conclusive, because it placed the 
franchise on a distinct principle and basis. What was the result of the measure 1 
I will tell you in a sentence. In 1848 there was a revolution in France, and 
the French Republic was created. What effect had that on England ? I can 
tell you. In my own experience no woman was allowed to quit her house in 
London, and artillery was planted on Westminster-bridge. Last year there was 
another French Revolution, and an infinitely more threatening Republic 
established, yet not five men were found to meet together in Manchester and 
grumble. And why ? Because the people had got what they wanted, and they 
got more than they wanted. They were content, and were grateful. Gentlemen, 
I have been asking some of my friends to inform me of the degree of patience 
of a Lancashire audience ; but remember this is an invitation which has been 
extended for a long time, and if I trespass upon your patience you may 
attribute it to right motives. I wish to speak to you truthfully and frankly 
on public afiairs. I don't do it for the purpose of receiving a cheer ; but 
when I am gone you may have what I have stated tested by your experience. 
If it be the right thing, cling to it ; if it be not right in its conclusions, you 
are too 'cute men not to reject it. Gentlemen, the constitution of Eng- 
land is |not merely a constitution in State. I have touched on 
Queen, Lords, and Commons ; but we must remember that the constitu- 
tion is Church and State. The wisest sovereigns and statesmen have always 
been anxious to connect authority with religion. They have felt 

that it gave a sanction to poAver, and the most enlightened have 
believed that it mitigated its exercise. But the same difficulty has been 
experienced in effecting this union which has been experienced in forming a 


Second Chamber — either the spiritual power has usurped upon the civil and 
established a sacerdotal society, or the civil power has invaded successfully 
the rights of the spiritual and the ministers of religion have been degraded 
into stipendiaries of the State and instruments of the Government. In 
England we accomplish this great result by an alliance between Church and 
State, between two originally independent powers. I will not go into the 
history of that alliance, which is rather a question for those archaeo- 
logical societies which occasionally amuse and instruct the people of 
this city. Enough for me that that union was made and has contributed 
for centuries to the civilisation of this country. Gentlemen, there 
is the same assault against the Church of England and the union between 
the State and the Church as there is against the Monarchy and against the 
House of Lords. It is said that the existence of Nonconformity proves that 
the Church is a failure. I draw from these premises an exactly contrary 
conclusion ; and I maintain that to have secured a national profession of 
faith with the unlimited enjoyment of private judgment in matters spiritual 
is the solution of the most difficult problem and one of the triumphs of 
civilisation. It is said that the existence of parties in the Church 
also proves its incompetence. On that matter, too, I entertain a 
contrary opinion. Parties have always existed in the Church ; and 
some have appealed to them as arguments in favour of its Divine institu- 
tion, because, in the services and doctrines of the Church have boon found 
representatives of every mood in the human mind. Those whT) are influenced 
by ceremonies find consolation in forms which secure to them ' ' the beauty 
of holiness." Those who are not satisfied except with enthusiasm find in its 
ministrations the exaltation they require, while others who believe that "tlic 
anchor of faith " can never be safely moored except in the dry sands of 
reason find a religion within the pale of the Church which can boast of its 
irrefragable logic and its irresistible evidence. Gentlemen, I am inclined 
sometimes to believe that those who advocate the abolition of the 
union between Church, and State have not carefully considered the 
consequences of such a course. The Church is a powerful cor- 
poration of many millions of her Majesty's subjects, with a con- 
summate organisation and wealth which in its aggregate is vast. 
Restricted and controlled by the State, so powerful a corporation may be 
only fruitful of public advantage, but it becomes a great question what might 
be the consequence of the severance of the controlling tie between these two 
bodies. The State would be enfeebled, but the Church would probably be 
strengthened. Whether that is a result to be desired is a grave question for 
all men. For my own part, I am bound to say that I doubt whether it would 
be favourable to the cause of civil and religious liberty. I know that there 
is a common idea that if the union between Church and State was 


severed, the wealth of the Cliurch would revert to the State ; 
but it would be well to remember that the great proportion 
of ecclesiastical property is the property of individuals. Take, 
for example, the fact that the great mass of Church patronage is patronage 
in the hands of private persons. That you could not touch without com- 
pensation to the patrons. You have established that principle in your late 
Irish Bill, where there was very little patronage. And in the present state 
of the public mind on the subject there is very little doubt that there would 
be scarcely a i)atron in England — irrespective of other aid the Church wo4.ild 
receive — who would not dedicate his compensation to the spiritual wants of 
his neighbours. It was computed some years ago that the property of the 
Church, in this manner if the union was terminated, would not be 
less than between £80,000,000 and £90,000,000 ; and since that 
period the amount of x^^'i"^^^® property dedicated to the purposes 
of the Church has very largely increased. I therefore trust that when the 
occasion offers for the country to speak out, it will speak out in an 
unmistakable manner on this subject ; and, recognising the inestimable 
services of the Church, that it will call upon the Government to maintain its 
union with the State. UiDon this subject there is one remark I 
would make. Nothing is more surprising to me than the plea on 
which the present outcry is made against the Church of England. I could 
not believe that in the 19th century the charge against the Church of 
England should be that Churchmen, and especially the clergy, had educated 
the people. If I were to fix upon one circumstance more than another which 
redo unded to the honour of Churchmen, it is that they should fulfil this 
noble office ; and, next to being " the stewards of Divine mysteries," I think 
the greatest distinction of the clergy is the admirable manner in which they 
have devoted their lives and their fortunes to this greatest of national 
objects. Gentlemen, you are well acquainted in this city with this contro- 
versy. It was in this city — I don't know whether it was not in this hall — 
that that remarkable meeting was held of the Nonconformists to eftect 
important alterations in the Education Act, and you are acquainted with the 
discussion in Parliament which arose in consequence of that meeting. 
Gentlemen, I have due and great respect for the Nonconformist body. I 
acknowledge their services to this country, and though I believe that 
the political reasons which mainly called them into existence have entirely 
ceased, it is impossible not to treat with consideration a body which has been 
eminent for its conscience, its learning, and its patriotism ; but I must 
express my mortification that, from a feeling of envy or of pique, the Noncon- 
formist body, rather than assist the Church in their great enterprise, should 
absolutely have become the partisans of a merely secular education. I believe 
myself, gentlemen, that without the recognition of a superintending Provi- 



dence in the affairs of this world all national education will be disastrous, and 
I feel confident that it is impossible to stop at that mere recognition. 
Religious education is demanded by the nation generally and by the instincts 
of human nature. I should like to see the Church and the Nonconformists 
work together ; but I trust, whatever may be the result, the country 
will stand by the Church in its efforts to maintain the religious education of 
• the people. Gentlemen, I foresee yet trials for the Church of England; but 
I am confident in its future. I am confident in its future because I believe 
there is now a very general feeling that to be national it must be comprehen- 
sive. I will not use the word " broad," because it is an epithet applied to a 
system with which I have no sympathy. But I would wish Churchmen, and 
especially the clergy, always to remember that in our ' ' Father's house there 
are many mansions," and I believe that comprehensive spirit is per- 
fectly consistent with the maintenance of formularies and the belief in 
dogmas Avithout which I hold no practical religion can exist. I have now made 
some observations to you which have ranged over the general character of 
our political institutions. I have touched upon the Monarchy, upon the 
Estates of the Reabn, upon the alliance of Church and State, and the 
influence upon society of a public profession of religious faith, and some- 
what episodically, but still I think necessarily, I have touched upon the 
act of recent legislation respecting the education of the people, which must 
deeply interest every thinking man. I have intended to spgak generally and 
frankly; I hope I have not been misunderstood. I wish to shew upon all 
these subjects the conclusions at which I have arrived, and I shall be proud 
to hope that you participate in them. Gentlemen, I do not come here to 
make a party speech, but at the same time I will not restrict myself from 
making those observations on public affairs Avhich become public men. 1 
must say it is with the greatest regret and wonder, with more regret even 
than wonder, that on the part of the chief subject of this realm — I mean the 
Prime Minister of England — who is always writing letters and making 
speeches upon these subjects, there is ever an uncertain sound. If a member 
of Parliament announces himself to be a Republican, the Prime Minister 
of England recognises him as a fellow-labourer. If a noisy multitude 
demand the abolition or only the reform of the House of Lords, the 
Prime Minister of England says that it is a difficult business; he must 
think once or twice, or even thrice before he can undertake it. If 
a gentleman who represents a borough not far distant, Mr. Miall, 
brings forward a motion in the House of Commons for the dis- 
establishment of the Church, the Prime Minister tells Mr. Miall 
that it must be obvious to him that the temper of the House of Commons is 
not at present in favour of it, and that if he wants to succeed he must act 
upon opinion out of doors ; whereupon, Mr. Miall, like a sensible man, calls 


a public meeting, and tells the public meeting exactly what the Prime 
Minister told him, and he says — ''In consequence of his instructions I have 
called this meeting in order that we may petition Parliament for the dises- 
tablishment of the English Church." Gentlemen, I have spoken to you of 
the institutions of your country ; but, after all, the test of institutions 
is the condition of the nation that they influence. I want to 
put them to that test. You are the inhabitants of an island 
not of colossal size, and which certainly was geographically intended to 
be the appendage to some continental empire — whether of the Franks 
or Gauls on the other side of the Channel, or the Teutons or Scandinavians 
beyond the German Sea, it matters little. Your early history gives proof 
that England was more invaded and pillaged and conquered than any other 
country ; yet amid these perils and vicissitudes the English race was formed, 
and they have brought about very different results. Instead of being 
invaded, your land is the only one that has a legitimate claim to the epithet 
of being inviolate. It is the inviolate island of the great and the free. 
Instead of being pillaged, you have attracted all the capital of the world to 
your shores ; instead of being conquered, your flag floats on many waters, 
and your standard waves in either zone. You have created a society of 
classes which gives vigour, variety, and life to the nation, and yet there is no 
class that has a privilege ; all are equal before the law. You possess 
a real aristocracy, open to all who deserve to enter it. You have created 
not merely what is the boast of other countries, a middle class . 
but you have created a hierarchy of middle classes, so that there 
is no degree of wealth, of refinement, of patience, of energy, 
of effort, which is not represented in those classes. And what is 
the condition of the great body of the people ? That is a question which 
must not be evaded. Gentlemen, it is a long time since I first found myseK 
in your district, much longer, indeed, than those eight-and-twenty years 
which are often by your kindness referred to, and always with pride ; and, 
therefore, so far as the condition of the great body of the people of this 
important district of England is concerned, I can speak from personal expe- 
rience and observation. I take the period which I took with reference to all 
political matters an hour ago, a period of forty years, from 1832 to 1872, 
and what have the working classes realised in that time ? Immense results. 
Their progress has not in any way been inferior to that of any other class. 
In that time they have gained immense results ; their wages have been raised, 
and their hours of daily toil have been diminished — the means of leisure, which 
is the great source of civilisation, have been increased. For centuries the great 
body of the people of this country have enjoyed a personal right and liberty 
not enjoyed by the population of any other country; but of late years poli- 
tical rights have been largely and gradually, therefore wisely, distributed. 


That the working classes of Lancashire and Yorkshire have proved not 
unworthy of these boons maybe easily maintained; but their progress and 
elevation have been during this interval wonderfully aided and assisted by 
three causes, which are not so distinctly attributable to their own energies. 
The first is the revolution in locomotion, which has opened the world to the 
working man, which has enlarged the horizon of his experience, increased his 
knowledge of nature and of art, and added immensely to the salutary recrea- 
tion, amusement, and pleasure of his existence. The second cause is the 
cheap postage, the moral benefits of which cannot be exaggerated. And the 
third is that unshackled press which has furnished him with endless sources 
of instruction, information and amusement, and has increased his ideas, 
elevated his self-respect, and made life more varied and delightful. Gentle- 
men, I think that the working classes of Lancashire— I believe that I am 
now speaking feebly, having addressed you so long — but I say their improve- 
ment has not only been gradual, but even rapid, during the last 40 
years. Those who can remember Lancashire nearly 40 years ago 
will see that great results have accrued, and will feel that there 
is a vast increase in the intelligence, happiness, general prosperity, 
and self-respect of the working classes. Gentlemen, if you would permit 
me, I would now make an observation upon another class of the labouring 
population. This is not a civic assembly, although we meet in a city. That was 
for convenience, but the invitation which I received was to meet the county and 
all the boroughs of Lancashire ; and I wish to make a few observations upon 
the condition of the agricultural labourer. That is a subject which now greatly 
attracts public attention. And, in the first place, to prevent any misconcep- 
tion, I beg to express my opinion that an agricultural labourer has as much 
right to combine for the bettering of his condition as a manufacturing labourer 
or worker in metals. If the causes of his combination are natural — that is to 
say, if they arise from his own feelings and from the necessities of his own 
condition, the combination will end in results mutually beneficial to employ- 
ers and employed. If, on the other hand, it is factitious and he is acted upon 
by extraneous influences and extraneous ideas, the combination will produce, 
I fear, much loss and misery both to employers and employed ; and after a 
time he will find himself in a similar or in a worse position. Gentlemen, in 
my opinion, the farmers of England, as a body, cannot afford to pay higher 
wages than they do, and those who will answer me by saying that they must 
find their ability by the deduction of rents are, I think, involving themselves 
with economic laws which may. prove too difficult for them to cope with. 
The profits of a farmer are very moderate. The interest upon capital 
invested in land is the smallest that any property furnishes. The 
farmer will have his profits and the investor in land will have his 
interest, even though they may be ol^tained at the cost of changing the mode 


of the cultivation of the country. Gentlemen, I should deeply regret to see 
the tillage of this country reduced, and a recurrence to pasture take place. I 
should regret it principally on account of the agricultural labourers them- 
selves. Their new friends call them Hodge, and describe them as a stolid 
race. I must say that, from my experience of them, they are sufficiently 
shrewd and open to. reason. I would say to them with confidence, as the 
great Athenian said to the Spartan who rudely assailed him, " Strike, but 
hear me." First, a change in the cultivation of the soil of this country would 
be very injurious to the labouring class ; and, secondly, I am of opinion that 
that class instead of being stationary have made, if not as much progress as 
the manufacturing class, very considerable progress during the last forty 
years. Many persons write and speak about the agricultural labourer with 
not so perfect a knowledge of his condition as is desirable. They treat 
him always as a human being who in every part of the country 
finds himself in an identical condition. Now, on the contrary, there 
is no class of labourers in which there is greater variety of condition 
than that of the agricultural labourers. It changes from north to south, 
from east to west, and from county to county. It changes even in the same 
county, where there is no alteration of soil and of configuration. The hind 
in Northumberland is in a very different condition from the famous Dorset- 
shire labourer — the tiller of the soil in Lincolnshire is different from his 
fellow agriculturist in Sussex. What the effect of manufactures is upon the 
agricultural districts in their neighbourhood it would be presumption in me 
to dwell upon — your own experience must tell you whether the agricultural 
labourer in North Lancashire, for example, has had no rise in wages and no 
diminution in toil. Take the case of the Dorsetshire labourer — the whole of 
the agricultural labourers on the south-western coast of England, for a very 
long period, worked only half the time of the labourers in other parts of Eng- 
land, and received only half the wages. In the experience of many, I dare 
say, who are here present, even thirty years ago, a Dorsetshire labourer never 
worked after three o'clock in the day ; and why ? Because the whole of 
that part of England was demoralised by smuggling. No one worked after three 
o'clock in the day for a very good reason — because he had to work at night. 
No farmer allowed his team to be employed after three o'clock, because he 
reserved his horses to take his illicit cargo at night and carry it rapidly into 
the interior. Therefore, as the men were employed and remunerated other- 
wise, they got into a habit of half -work and half -pay so far as the land was 
concerned, and when smuggling was abolished — and it has only been 
abolished for thirty years — these imperfect habits of labour continued, and 
do even now continue to a great extent. That is the origin of the condition 
of the agricultural labourer in the south-western part of England. But now, 
gentlemen, I want to test the condition of the agricultural labourer 


generally ; and I will take a park of England with which I am familiar, and 
can speak as to the accuracy of the facts — I mean the group described as the 
south-midland counties. The conditions of labour there are the same, or 
pretty nearly the same, throughout. The group may be described as a 
strictly agricultural community, and they embrace a population of probably 
a million and a half. Now, I have no hesitation in saying that the 
improvement in their lot during the last forty years has been pro- 
gressive and is remarkable. I attribute it to three causes. In the 
first place, the rise in their money wages is no less than fifteen per cent. 
The second cause of their improvement is the almost total disappearance of 
excessive and exhausting toil, from the general introduction of machinery. 
I don't know whether I could get a couple of men who could, or, if they 
could, would thrash a load of wheat in my neighbourhood. The third great 
cause which has improved their condition is the very general, not to say 
universal, institution of allotment grounds. Now, gentlemen, when I find 
that this has been the course of affairs in our very considerable and strictly 
agricultural portion of the country, where there have been no exceptional 
circumstances, like smuggling, to degrade and demoralise the race, I cannot 
resist the conviction that the agricultural labourers, instead of being 
stationary, as we are constantly told by those not acquainted with them, has 
been one of progressive improvement ; and that in those counties — and they 
are many — where the stimulating influence of a manufacturing neighbour- 
hood acts upon the land, the general conclusion at which I arrive is 
that the agiicultural labourer has had his share in the advance of 
national prosperity. Gentlemen, I am not here to maintain that there is 
nothing to be done to increase the wellbeing of the working classes of this 
country, generally speaking. There is not a single class in the country 
which is not susceptible of improvement; and that makes the life and anima- 
tion of our society. But in all wc do we must remember, as my noble friend 
told them at Liverpool, that much depends upon the working classes them- 
selves ; and what I know of the working classes in Lancashire makes me 
sure that they will respond to this appeal. Much also may be expected from 
that sympathy between classes which is a distinctive feature of the present 
day; and, in the last place, no inconsiderable results may be obtained by 
judicious and prudent legislation. But, gentlemen, in attempting to legis- 
late upon social matters the great object is to be practical — to have before us 
some distinct aims and some distinct means by which they can be accom- 
plished. Gentlemen, I think public attention as regards these matters ought 
to be concentrated upon sanitary legislation. That is a wide subject, 
and, if properly treated, comprises almost every consideration which 
has a just claim upon legislative interference. Pure air, pure water, 
the inspection of unhealthy habitations, the adulteration of food, 


these and many kindred matters may be legitimately dealt with by 
the Legislature ; and I am bound to say the Legislature is not idle upon 
them, for we haveu this time two important measures before Parliament on 
the subject. One — by a late colleague of mine, Sir Charles Adderley — is a 
large and comprehensive measure, founded upon a sure basis, for it consoli- 
dates all existing public Acts and improves thom. A prejudice has been raised 
against that proposal, by stating that it interferes with the private Acts of 
the great towns. I take this opportunity of contradicting that. The Bill of 
Sir Charles Adderley does not touch the Acts of the great towns. It omy 
allows them, if they think fit, to avail themselves of its new provisions. The 
other measure, by the Government, is of a partial character. What it com- 
prises is good, so far as it goes, but it shrinks from that bold consolidation of 
existing Acts which I think one of the great merits of Sir Charles Adderley's 
Bill, which permits us to become acquainted with how much may be done in 
favour of sanitary improvements by existing provisions. Gentlemen, I 
cannot impress upon you too strongly my conviction of the importance of the 
Legislature and society uniting together in favour of these important results. 
A great scholar and a great wit 300 years ago said that, in his opinion, there 
was a great mistake in the Vulgate, which, as you all know, is the Latin 
translation of the Holy Scriptures, and that, instead of saying ''Vanity of 
vanities, all is vanity" — Vanitas vanitatum, omnia vanitas — the wise and 
witty King really said Sanitas sanitatum, om7iia sanitas. Gentlemen, it is 
impossible to overrate the importance of the subject. After all, the first 
consideration of a Minister should be the health of the people. A land may 
be covered with historic trophies, with museums of science and galleries of 
art, with Universities and with libraries ; the people may be civilised and 
ingenious ; the country may be even famous in the annals and action of the 
world ; but, gentlemen, if the population every ten years decreases, and the 
stature of the race every ten years diminishes, the history of that country 
will soon be the history of the past. Gentlemen, I said I had not come here 
to make a party speech, I have addressed you upon subjects of grave, and, 
I will venture to believe, of general interest ; but to be here and be altogether 
silent upon the present state of public afiairs would not be respecful to you, 
and, perhaps, on the whole, would be thought incongruous. Gentlemen, 
I cannot pretend that our position either at home or abroad is, in 
my opinion, satisfactory. At home, at a period of immense prosperity, 
with a people contented and naturally loyal, we find to our surprise the most 
extravagant doctrines professed and the fundamental principles of our most 
valuable institutions impugned, and that too by persons of some authority. 
Gentlemen, this startling inconsistency is accounted for, in my mind, by the 
circumstances u»der which the present Administration was formed. It is 
the first instance in my knowledge of a British Administration being avowedly 


formed on a principle of violence. It is unnecessary for me to remind you 
of the circumstances which preceded the formation of that Government. 
You were the principal scene and theatre of the development of statesman- 
ship that then occurred. You witnessed the incubation of the portentous 
birth. You remember when you were informed that the policy to secure the 
prosperity of Ireland and the content of Irishmen was a policy of sacrilege 
and confiscation. Gentlemen, when Ireland was placed under the wise and 
able administration of Lord Abercorn Ireland was prosperous, and I may say 
content. But there happened at that time a very peculiar conjunction in 
politics. The civil war in America had just ceased ; and a band of 
military adventurers — Poles, Italians, and many Irishmen — concocted at New 
York a conspiracy to invade Ireland, with the belief that the whole country 
would rise to welcome them. How that conspiracy was baffled, how those 
plots were confounded, I need not now remind you. For that we were mainly 
indebted to the eminent qualities of a great man who has just left us. You 
remember how the constituencies were appealed to to vote against the 
Government who had made so unfit an appointment as that of Lord Mayo to 
the Viceroyalty of India. It was by his great qualities when Secretary for 
Ireland, by his vigilance, his courage, his patience, and his perseverance that 
this conspiracy was defeated. Never was a Minister better informed. Ho 
knew what was going on at New York just as well as what was going on in 
the city of Dublin. When the Fenian conspiracy had been «ntirely put down 
it became necessary to consider the policy which it was expedient to pursue 
in Ireland ; and it seemed to us at that time that what Ireland required after 
all the excitement which it had experienced was a policy which should largely 
develope its material resources. There were one or two subjects of a different 
character which, for the advantage of the State, it would have been desirable 
to have settled, if that could have been effected with the general 
concurrence of both the great parties in that country. Had we remained 
in office that would have been done. But we were destined to 
quit it, and we quitted it without a murmur. The policy of our 
successors was different. Their specific was to despoil Churches and 
plunder landlords, and what has been the result ? Sedition rampant, 
treason thinly veiled, and whenever a vacancy occurs in the representation a 
candidate is returned pledged to the disruption of the realm. Her Majesty's 
new Ministers proceeded in their career like a body of men under the 
influence of some delirious drug. Not satiated with the spoliation and 
anarchy of Ireland, they began to attack every institution and every interest, 
every class and calling in the country. It is curious to observe their course. 
They took in hand the Army. What have they done ] I will not comment 
on what they have done. I will historically state it, and leave you to draw 
the inference. So long as Constitutional England has existed there has been 


a jealousy among all classes against the existence of a standing army. As 
our Empire expanded and the existence of a large body of disciplined troops 
became a necessity, every precaution was taken to prevent the danger 
to our liberties which a standing army involved. It was a first 
principle not to concentrate in the island any overwhelming num- 
ber of troops, and a considerable portion was distributed in the 
colonies. Care was taken that the troops generally should be oflBicered 
by a class of men deeply interested in the property and the liberties of England. 
So extreme was the jealousy that the relations between that once constitu- 
tional force, the Militia, and the Sovereign were rigidly guarded, and it was 
carefully placed under local influences. All this is changed. We have a 
standing army of large amount, quartered, and brigaded, and encamped 
j)ermanently in England, and fed by a considerable and constantly increasing 
Reserve. It will in due time be officered by a class of men eminently 
scientific, but with no relations necessarily with society ; while the Militia is 
withdrawn from all local influences, and placed under the immediate com- 
mand of the Secretary of War. Thus, in the nineteenth century, we have a 
large standing army established in England, contrary to all the traditions of 
the land, and that by a Liberal Government, and with the warm acclamations of 
the Liberal party. Let us look what they have done with the Admiralty. 
You remember, in this county especially, the denunciations of the profligate 
expenditure of the Conservative Government, and you have since had an oppor- 
tunity of comparing it with the gentler burden of Liberal estimates. The Navy 
was not merely an instance of profligate expenditure, but of incompetent and 
inadequate management. A great revolution was promised in its administra- 
tion. A gentleman, almost unknown to English politics, was strangely 
preferred to one of the highest places in the councils of Her Majesty. He 
set to at his task with ruthless activity. The Consultative Council, under 
which Nelson had gained all his victories, was dissolved. The Secretaryship 
of the Admiralty, an office which exercised a complete supervision over every 
division of that great department — an office which was to the Admiralty what 
the Secretary of State is to the kingdom, which, in the qualities which it 
required and the duties which it fulfilled was rightly a stepping-stone to the 
Cabinet, as in the instances of Lord Halifax, Lord Herbert, and many others, 
was reduced to absolute insignificance. Even the office of Control, which of 
all others required a position of independence, and on which the safety of the 
Navy mainly depended, was deprived of all its important attributes. For 
two years the Opposition called the attention of Parliament to these 
destructive changes, but Parliament and the nation were alike in- 
sensible. Full of other business, they could not give a thought to what they 
looked uj)on merely as captious criticism. It requires a great disaster to 
command the attention of England ; and when the Captain was lost, and 


when they had the details of the perilous voyage of the Megaara, then public 
indignation demanded a complete change in this renovating administration of 
the Navy. And what has occurred ? It is only a few weeks since that in the 
House of Commons I heard the naval statement made by a new First Lord, and 
it consisted only of the rescinding of all the revolutionary changes of his pre- 
decessor, every one of which during the last two years has been pressed upon 
the attention of Parliament and the country by that Constitutional and neces- 
sary body the Opposition. Gentlemen, it will not do for me — considering 
the time I have akeady occupied, and there are still some subjects of impor- 
tance that must be touched — to dwell upon any of the other similar topics of 
which there is a rich abundance. I doubt not there is in this hall more than 
one farmer who has been alarmed by the suggestion that his agricultural 
machinery should be taxed. I doubt not there is in this hall more than one 
publican who remembers that last year an Act of Parliament was introduced 
to denounce him as a *' sinner." I doubt not there are in this hall a 
widow and an orphan who remember the profligate proposition to plunder their 
lonely heritage. But, gentlemen, as time advanced it was not difficult to perceive 
that extravagance was being substituted for energy by the Government. The un- 
natural stimulus was subsiding. Their paroxysm ended in prostration. Some 
took refuge in melancholy, and their eminent chief alternated between a menace 
and a sigh. As I sat opposite the Treasury Bench, the Ministers reminded 
me of one of those mai-ine landscapes not very unusual on the coasts of South 
America. You behold a range of exhausted volcanoes. Not a flame flickers 
on a single pallid crest. But the situation is still dangerous. There are 
occasional earthquakes, and ever and anon the deep rumbling of the sea. 
But, gentlemen, there is one other topic on which I must touch. If the 
management of our domestic affairs has been founded upon a principle of 
violence, that certainly cannot be alleged against the management of our 
external relations. I know the difficulty of addressing a body of Englishmen 
on these topics. The very phrase "foreign aff"airs " makes an Englishman 
convinced that I am about to treat of subjects with which he has no concern. 
Unhappily, the relations of England to the rest of the world, which are 
*' foreign affairs," are the matters which most influence his lot. Upon 
them depends the increase or reduction of taxation. Upon them 
depends the enjoyment or the embarrassment of his industry. And yet, 
though so momentous are the consequences of the mismanagement of our 
foreign relations, no one thinks of them till the mischief occurs, and then it 
is found how the most vital consequences have been occasioned by 
mere inadvertance. I will illustrate this point by two anecdotes. Since 
I have been in public life there has been for this country a great 
calamity and there is a great danger, and both might have been 
avoided. The calamity was the Crimean War. You know what were 


the consequences of the Crimean War — a great addition to your debt, an 
enormous addition to your taxation, a cost more precious than your treasure 
— the best blood of England. Half a million of men, I believe, perished in 
that great undertaking. Nor are the evil consequences of that war 
adequately described by what I have said. All the disorders and disturbances 
of Europe, those immense armaments that are an incubus on national in- 
dustry and the great obstacle to progressive civilisation, may be traced and 
JTistly attributed to the Crimean War. And yet the Crimean War need never 
have occurred. When Lord Derby acceded to office, against his own wishes, 
in 1852, the Liberal party most unconstitutionally forced him to dissolve 
Parliament at a certain time by stopping the supplies, or at least by limiting 
the period for which they were voted. There was not a single reason to 
justify that course, for Lord Derby had only accepted office, having once 
declined it, on the renewed api^lication of his Sovereign. The country, 
at the dissolution, increased the power of the Conservative party, but did 
not give to Lord Derby a majority, and he had to retire from power. 
There was not the slightest chance of a Crimean War when we retired from 
office ; but the Emperor of Russia, believing that the successor of Lord 
Derby was no enemy to Russian agression in the East, commenced those 
proceedings with the result of which you are familiar. I speak of what I 
know — not of what I believe, but of what I have evidence in my possession 
to prove — that the Crimean War would never have happened if Lord Derby 
had remained in office.' The great danger is the present state of our rela- 
tions with the United States. When I acceded to office I did so, so far as 
regarded the United States of America, with some advantage. 
During the whole of the Civil War in America both my noble 
friend near me and I had maintained a strict and fair neutrality. 
This was fully appreciated by the Government of the United States, 
and they expressed their wish that with our aid the settlement of all 
differences between the two Governments should be accomplished. They 
sent here a Plenipotentiary, an honourable gentleman, very intelligent, and 
possessing general confidence. My noble friend near me, with great ability, 
negotiated a Treaty for the settlement of all these claim s. He was the first 
Minister who proposed to refer them to arbitration, and the Treaty was 
signed by the American Government. It was signed, I think, on the 10th 
of November, on the eve of the dissolution of Parliament. The 
borough elections that first occurred j)roved what would be the 
fate of the Ministry, and the moment they were known in America 
the American Government announced that Mi". Reverdy Johnson had 
mistaken his Instructions, and tliey could not present the Treaty to the 
Senate for its sanction — the sanction of which there had been previously no 
doubt. But the fact is that, as in the case of the Crimean War, it was sup- 


posed that our successors would be favourable to Russian aggression, so it 
was supposed that by the accession to office of Mr. Gladstone and a gentleman 
you know well, Mr. Bright, the American Claims would be considered in a 
very different sjDirit. How they have been considered is a subject which, no 
doubt, occupies deeply the minds of tlie people of Lancashire. Now, gen- 
tlemen, observe this — the question of the Black Sea involved in the Crimean 
War, and the question of the American claims involved in our negotiations 
with Mr Johnson, are the two questions that have again turned up, and have 
been tlie two great questions that have been under the management of this 
Government. How have they treated them ? Prince Gorfcchakoft", thinking 
he saw an ©importunity, announced his determination to break from 
the Treaty of Paris, and terminate all the conditions hostile to 
Russia which had been the result of the Crimean War. What was 
the first movement on the part of our Government is at present a mystery. 
This we know, that they selected the most rising diplomatist of the day and 
sent him to Prince Bismarck with a declaration that the i)olicy of Russia, if 
persisted in, was war with England. Now, gentlemen, there was not the 
slightest chance of Russia going to war with England, and no necessity, as I' 
shall always maintain, of England going to war with Russia. I believe I am 
not wrong in stating that the Russian Government were prepared to with- 
draw from the position they had rashly taken; but suddenly her Majesty's 
Government, to use a technical phrase, threw over their Plenipotentiary, 
and, instead of threatening war if the Treaty of Paris were violated, they 
agreed to arrangements by which the violation of that Treaty should be sanc- 
tioned by England, and, in the form of a Congress, they shewed themselves 
guaranteeing their own humiliation. That Mr. Odo Russell made no mistake 
is quite obvious, because he has since been selected her Majesty's Am- 
bassador at the most important Court of Europe. Gentlemen, what will bo 
tlie consequence of this extraordinary weakness on the part of the British 
Government it is difficult to forsee. Already we hear that Sebastopol is to 
be re-fortified, nor can any man doubt that the entire command of the Black 
Sea will soon be in the possession of Russia. The time may not be distant 
when we may hear of the Russian power in the Persian Gulf, and what effect 
that may have upon the dominions of England and upon those possessions on 
the productions of which you every year more and more depend, are ques- 
tions upon which it will be well for you on proper occasions to meditate. I 
come now to that question which most deeply interests you at this moment, 
and that is our relations with the United States. I approved the Government 
referring this question to arbitration. It was only following the policy of 
Lord Stanley. My noble friend disapproved the negotiations being carried 
on at Washington. I confess that I would willingly have persuaded myself 
that that was not a mistake, but reflection has convinced mc that my noble 


friend was right. I remembered the successful negotiation of the Clayton- 
Bulwer Treaty by Sir Henry Bulwer. I flattered myself that treaties at 
Washington might be successfully negotiated ; but I agi*ee with my noble friend 
that his general view was far more sound than my own. But no one when 
tliat Commission was sent forth for a moment could anticipate the course of 
their conduct under the strict injunctions of the Government. We believed 
that that Commission was sent to ascertain what points should be submitted 
to arbitration, to be decided by the principles of the law of nations. We had 
not the slightest idea that that Comission was sent with power and instruc- 
tions to alter the law of nations itself. When that result was announced we 
expressed our entire disapprobation ; and yet, trusting to the rej)resentations 
of the Government that matters were concluded satisfactorily, we had to 
decide whether it was wise, if the great result was obtained, to wrangle upon 
points, however important, such as those to which I have referred. Gentle- 
men, it appears that, though all parts of England were ready to make those 
sacrifices, the two negotiating States — the Government of the United 
Kingdom and the Government of the United States — placed a different 
interpretation upon the Treaty when the time had arrived to put its 
provisions into practice. Gentlemen, in my mind, and in the opinion 
of my noble friend near me, there was but one course to take under the 
circumstances, painful as it might be ; and that was at once to appeal to the 
good feeling and good sense of the United States, and, stating the dijQ&culty, 
to invite confidential conference whether it might not be removed. But 
Her Majesty's Government took a difi"erent course. On the 15th of 
December Her Majesty's Government were aware of a contrary interpretation 
being placed on the Treaty of Washington by the American Government. 
The Prime Minister received a copy of their Counter Case, and he confessed 
he had never read it. He had a considerable number of copies sent to him 
to distribute among his colleagues, and you remember, probably, the 
remarkable statement in which he informed the House he had distributed 
those copies to everybody except those for whom they were intended. Time 
went on, and the adverse interpretation of the American Government oozed 
out, and was noticed by the press. Public alarm and public indignation were 
excited ; and it was only seven weeks after, on the very eve of the meeting 
of Parliament — some 24 hours before the meeting of Parliament — that Her 
Majesty's Government felt they were absolutely obliged to make a 
"friendly communication" to the United States that they had arrived 
at an interjpretation of the Treaty the reverse of that of the 
American Government. What was the position of the American 
Government ? Seven weeks had passed without their having received 
the slightest intimation from Her Majesty's Ministers. They had 
circulated their Case throughout the world. They had translated it into 


every European language. It had been sent to every Court and Cabinet, to 
every Sovereign and every Minister. It was impossible for the American 
Government to recede from their position, even if they had believed it to bo 
an erroneous one. And then, to aggravate the difficulty, the Prime Minister 
goes down to Parliament, declares that there is only one interpretation to be 
placed on the Treaty, and defies and attacks everybody who believes it sus- 
ceptible of another. Was there ever such a combination of negligence and 
blundering ? And now, gentlemen, what is about to happen ? All we know 
is that Her Majesty's Ministers are doing everything in their power to evade 
the cognizance and criticism of Parliament. They have received an answer 
to their "friendly communication;" of which, I believe, it has been 
ascertained that the American Government adhere to their in- 
terpretation ;■ and yet they prolong the controversy. What is 
about to occur it is unnecessary for one to predict ; but if it be 
this — if, after a fruitless ratiocination worthy of a schoolman, we ultimately 
agree so far to the interpretation of the American Government as to submit 
the whole case to arbitration, with feeble reservation of a protest if it be 
decided against us, I venture to say that we shall be entering on a course not 
more distinguished by its feebleness than by its impending peril. There is 
before us every prospect of the same incompetence that distinguished our 
negotiations respecting the independence of the Black Sea ; and I fear that 
there is every chance that that incompetence will be sealed by our ultimately 
acknowledging these indirect claims of the United States, which, both as 
regards jDrinciple and practical results, are fraught with the utmost danger 
to this country. Gentlemen, don't suppose, because I counsel firmness and 
decision at the right moment, that I am of that school of statesmen who are 
favourable to turbulent and aggressive diplomacy. I have resisted it during 
a great part of my life. I am not unaware that the relations of England to 
Europe have undergone a vast change during the century that has just elapsed. 
The relations of England to Europe are not the same as they were in the days of 
Lord Chatham or Frederick the Great. The Queen of England has become the 
Sovereign of the most powerful of Oriental States. On the other side of the 
globe there are"now establishments belonging to her, teeming with wealth 
and population, which will, in due time, exercise their influence over the 
distribution of power. The old establishments of this country, now the 
United States of America, throw their lengthening shades over the Atlantic, 
and mix with European waters. These are vast and novel elements in the 
distribution of power. I acknowledge that the policy of England with respect 
to Europe should be a policy of reserve, but a proud reserve ; and, in 
answer to those statesmen — those mistaken statesmen who have intimated 
the decay of the power of England and the decline of its resources, I express 
here my confident conviction that there never was a moment in our history 


v/hen the power of England was so great and her resources so vast and in- 
exhaustible. And yet, gentlemen, it is not merely our fleets and armies, our 
powerful artillery, our accumulated capital, and our imlimited credit on which 
I so much depend, as upon that unbroken spirit of her people, which I believe 
was never prouder of the Imperial country to which they belong. Gentlemen, 
it is to that spirit that I above all things trust. I look upon the people of 
Lancashire as fair representatives of the people of England. I think the 
manner in which they have invited me here, locally a stranger, to receive the 
expression of their cordial sympathy, and only because they recognise some 
efibrt on my part to maintain the greatness of their country, is evidence of 
the spirit of the land. I must express to you again my deep sense of the 
generous manner in which you have welcomed me, and in which you have 
permitted me to express to you my views upon public affairs. Proud of your 
confidence and encouraged by your sympathy, I now deliver to you, as my 
last words, the cause of the Tory Party, of the English Constitution, and of 
the British Empire.